Luxury Hotels


In Dubai, ten is not only a decade it’s a generation as far as hotels are concerned. Christophe Schnyder, above, arrived a year before the 2013 opening of the 546-room SOFITEL THE PALM DUBAI. A year or so ago he and Accor realised tweaking, if not full botox, was necessary.

Tastes and styles have moved on. No longer was it an asset to have Polynesian-themed areas with dark wood, dark floors and dark everything. Today, darkened bronze lifesize statues of Polynesian dancers sit easily but somewhat incongruously among flowering bushes separating beach from walkway – and there are black-painted palm-fronds climbing up and over whitened wood side tables in suite 6204 but they sit oh so naturally.

Suite 6204 is one of 21 in a three-floor adult-only block (one of two, identical). Up 45 darkish marble stairs from the roof-high atrium, manned 24/7 – often by an Uzbek, one of 46 nationalities among the 750 team members. Inside, 6204 could be in Scandinavia. The side tables, whitened wood outline-only four-poster facing French windows, terrace, palm treetops and the ocean. Open bathroom with two-metre circular tub. Sockets and ports wherever you might possibly need them. L’Occitaine fixed toiletries and Laurent-Perrier in the minibar (non-automatic, biên sur) are a reminder of France

Outside, a Scandinavian association is replaced by an affinity with The Maldives. Beach and gardens, kids’ clubs and pools. At the end of a jetty boardwalk outside-run Seamocean offers flite-school classes, e-foils, e-surfboards and iaqua. To add usage to both fitness centre and pool, apparently a ‘purist’ wellness initiative is to be introduced next year. Dining choices range from interior to Laguna on the beach, from British lunches, whatever they are, to all-day icecream kiosks, ready when you are.

Get away from the crowds in the adult-only blocks, or in one of two, re-imagined villas, both two-floor four-bedroom affairs with private media rooms, gyms and outdoor pools. Villa Eden is yet more whitened wood. Villa Palm is navy and white nautical-Regency with a few crystal chandeliers and a pretty-enormous manicured garden. Idea for weddings, or for fashion shoots – as long as it’s Chanel or Dior. That’s the level, that’s the underlying French nationality of this very-international resort.